Tax-heavy Maharashtra to forgo revenue for votes; scrap 44 toll points

10 June 2014

Ahead of state elections due in October, the Maharashtra government on Monday announced closure of 44 road toll collection points, amid numerous protests over high and arbitrary toll taxes.

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the finance portfolio, made the announcement while replying to a debate on the state budget in the Legislative Assembly.

Pawar said 34 'toll plazas' (as they have been dubbed in Indian speak)  on roads constructed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and 10 of Public Works Department (PWD) will be shut down shortly.

A sum of Rs306 crore has been set aside to compensate contractors operating the toll plazas, Pawar said.

There are as many as 166 toll plazas in the state, perhaps more than in any other Indian state.

Pawar said the state would ask the union government to scrap toll on National Highways, which are controlled by the centre.

The decision comes on a day when a public protest was organised in Kolhapur against the toll collection policy. Workers of political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India, and the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) took part in the agitation.

In February, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS had launched a state-wide stir on the toll issue, which had turned violent.


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